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NC's Elkin City Schools Adopts STEAM (STEM with Arts)

A North Carolina school district — the first in the state — has decided to become a "STEAM" school system. The decision at Elkin City Schools will be applied to pre-K through 12th grade classes. The district has about 1,200 students.

STEAM, developed by educator Georgette Yakman, is an instructional framework that integrates the arts (language arts, performing arts, visual arts, and humanities) with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).

Elkin is following a three-year plan for its transformation.

Beginning this fall, grades 4–8 will use STEAM instruction through project-based learning. The latter emphasizes critical thinking, creativity, team work, collaboration, communication skills, and responsibility.

This summer, teachers in those classes will receive two days of professional development by Yakman on how to integrate STEAM into the curriculum; they'll also receive three days of training by the Buck Institute for Education on project-based learning. Additional grades at the school will follow in fall 2014 and 2015.

"STEAM education will transform the educational system of the Elkin City Schools," said Randy Bledsoe, superintendent of the district. "A STEAM-focused education will raise the level of expectations of academic knowledge to that of application, discovery, and critical thinking."

The overall goal, he added, was to produce "globally competitive students," prepared to compete at colleges and universities and to have the skills needed in the 21st century workplace.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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